“For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these..” Jesus
I remember once, watching astonished as Jeff, my huge, scary German- Shepherd dog, became a little pup and followed my nephew around the room, nuzzling into his ear and behaving as if he’d found a long lost friend: All my nephew had done had been to walk into my house, kneel down and cuddle my huge fellow, then tickle his tummy and roll him over.
And that absolutely child-like introduction made the dog his best friend!
There’s this anecdote of a Santa Claus in a shopping mall: He wasn’t any ordinary Santa, maybe it was the real beard, or maybe it was the twinkle in his eye when he talked to the kids. He came as close to the genuine Santa as anyone could have. The kindly old man worked as Santa Claus at a resort all year round and for most people he was just about the real thing.
One year, he was asked, “You must really love children.”
“Yes, I do,” he said. “And adults, too. Many adults want to sit with me for a picture!”
“Oh, yes,” he replied. “As a matter of fact, one day 14 of the people who came to visit me yesterday were adults!” And then he said something strange, “All of us have a child inside of us. It’s a terrible thing when you lose that!”
I think I know what he meant. Children are enthusiastic. They’ve not forgotten how to have fun. And they still feel awe and wonder and excitement.
“It’s a terrible thing when you lose that,” said Santa. I don’t think he meant that we are to be childish and immature – just childlike. There is a difference.
To be childlike is to be fun loving, and ready to get lost in the present. It is to be innocent and trusting, quicker to embrace life and love. To be childlike is to not to be disillusioned by the world or become too cynical about people. Those who are childlike laugh easily and often. They know there is plenty about this universe they may not understand, and that is okay. In fact, mystery is good. It fills them with awe.
“The best actors, I think, have a childlike quality. They have a sort of an ability to lose themselves. There’s still some silliness.” Kenneth Branagh
“The process I go through in the art and the architecture, I actually want it to be almost childlike. Sometimes I think it’s magical.” Maya Lin
And this by Christopher Meloni, “You can be childlike without being childish…!”
And as I saw Jeff, my fierce German Shepherd changed from a snarling wolf into a gentle pup, because someone became childlike in understanding him that night, I also remember what the Psalms say about being childlike, ‘That the Lord protects those of childlike faith..!’
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